I want to take the time to share Adrian’s natural birth story. In a world where birth has been coined a medical procedure, it’s so important for those who experience a positive home birth to share it. I hope our story helps to normalize birth and inspire you to trust your body in its ability to birth naturally!
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Our Positive Home Birth Story
My labor started 4 days before my son was born, on Halloween day, when I was exactly 39 weeks pregnant.
I started experiencing consistent Braxton Hicks contractions that were coming every six minutes throughout the day. They didn’t hurt but I definitely noticed a tightening in my uterus as I went about my day.
They were more annoying than anything else.
Around midday, I used the restroom and noticed a bloody show, so I notified my midwifes of the things happening in case labor kicked up a notch rather quickly.
Unfortunately for me, this ended up being prodromal labor that would go on for three full days before my body was ready for the real deal. At least we got to enjoy Halloween as a family!
On Sunday, things seemed too slow down a bit. I still had mild contractions, but they weren’t as consistent as the previous day. I kept losing blood tinged mucus plug throughout the day though so at least I knew something was happening.
On Monday, I went for a 2 mile walk and that increased both the intensity and frequency of my contractions. I was hopeful that would help things along but once again after I showered and ate lunch, they fizzled back out.
Finally on Tuesday, I started to consider other options for starting labor. This false labor was getting old, and I was honestly worried if it would wear my uterus muscle out and make it “too tired” once it really was active labor.
I decided that morning to go for a longer walk and then asked my husband pick up some castor oil on the way home. I planned to take a very, VERY small dose that afternoon and see what happened.
The ONLY reason I even considered castor oil was because I consulted with my cousin’s wife, who has had five babies, multiple naturally, and used castor oil successfully.
After I got home from a 2.5 mile walk with my son, I showered and afterwards I lathered up with coconut oil. By this point, I had to lift my leg up on the vanity to get to my calves. You know how it is, by the end of pregnancy you have to get really creative with some personal hygiene measures!
As I was in this awkward position, a small gush of liquid came out which totally took me by surprise.
Then it happened again.
I immediately texted my husband, my midwives, and my mom who was thankfully already in town and let them know my water might have broken.
I actually had a prenatal appointment with my midwives that day but within 30 minutes of this leak, I started having consistent contractions, so I decided to stay home and focus on what was going on with my body.
My mom immediately came and picked up my son which was so wonderful. I honestly thought I would want him to be a part of the process so he could experience such a normal part of life. But once it hit me that this process was really happening, I honestly felt scared.
My only experience with childbirth was the horrendous pain I endured with Pitocin so I was worried at any moment I would become incapable of being rationale around my son.
After my husband was home and my son left with his Nana, I turned on my favorite male acoustic playlist and filled every diffuser in my house with Clarity Sage and Lavender essential oils. I sat in my backyard in the sunshine on my birth ball and tried to center myself for what was ahead.
I guess I was kinda setting my intentions.
My mantra was, “I will birth this baby successfully at home and we both will be safe.” I said a prayer to seal the deal.
Eating During Labor
One thing I loved about laboring at home was eating nutritious foods the entire time. I chose small, easy to digest meals because I didn’t want to risk throwing up.
For a snack I had homemade bone broth.
For dinner I had avocado toast with ghee on sourdough bread.
Then in the middle of the night, I had a bowl of my favorite high protein cereal.
The way things went, I didn’t have to miss a single meal.
After I spent an hour or two outside that afternoon walking, grounding myself, and enjoying the sunshine, I decided it was time to head to my bedroom to settle into my labor.
I read that the nighttime hormone melatonin plays a roll in amplifying the effects of oxytocin in the uterus by making contractions more forceful and effective. I drew my blackout curtains early on that day and tried to remain in a super relaxed zen state.
Before I went upstairs though, I took a dose of two homeopathic remedies that are said to help labor kick into action, Caulophyllum and Cimicfuga 200C. I took each of these remedies again a few hours later.
I also had clarity sage and lavender essential oil diffusing in my room and alternated between lying on my left side and stimulating my nipples, using the birthing ball to keep my baby in an optimal position/stretch out my pelvis, and walking around my room to keep contractions going.
Of course I had Friends on my TV to distract myself.
Those three simple activities seemed to keep my contractions going and provide me with enough change in routine to not get bored with the process.
I am sure labor isn’t like this for every woman and some are lucky enough to have it come on like a freight train and not have to do anything to nurse it along. This was not the case for me.
I ended up enduring a total of 18.5 hours of labor. Towards the end of it, I found myself getting on YouTube and searching for “prolonged labor natural birth stories.” I guess I wanted to prepare my mind with stories of other women who birthed naturally despite a long labor process.
Midwives checking in…
My midwives came by around 8 pm that evening to check on me and my progress. I ended up being only around 2-3 cm after around 7 hours of what I assumed was the first stage of labor.
We were instructed to get some sleep and hopefully that will lead to a rested body and early wakeup call to really active labor.
I knew in my heart that I would likely not sleep but I think my sweet husband took that as permission for him to get some much-needed rest.
We laid in bed together until he finally drifted off and then I snuck downstairs and called my mom. We talked for an hour and then I busied myself by doing things like filling soap dishes, laundry, and light cleaning. I never really nested during this pregnancy so I guess that was my chance.
I leaned/squatted into each contraction to try maximize the effects as much as possible. I honestly didn’t want to try to lay down only to not be comfortable enough to sleep. I just wanted to do everything I could to get my body to pick up the intensity and get my baby out.
Finally around 2:30 am I couldn’t go on any longer.
I went upstairs and tried to do the laying down nipple stimulation thing but I must have drifted off out of pure exhaustion.
I woke up around 3:30 am and immediately felt guilty for some reason for falling asleep. In my head I guess I had committed to getting my baby out safely, especially since I assumed the gush of fluid was my water breaking, which put me on the 24 hour timeline to get my baby out.
That little nap definitely slowed my contractions down. I took a dose of Pulsatilla and Gelsemium to get my labor going again around 4 am. (If you have never heard of homeopathy before, it is a natural remedy made from dilutions of things in nature. Homeopathic remedies trigger the body to begin a natural healing process. It can be used in labor and I found it very effective.)
Very quickly after I took those two remedies, my labor got more intense. I remember being in my kitchen and squatting into each contraction but then really having to breathe through them.
Around 0500 I went upstairs and felt like it was time to wake my husband up. I got in bed and told him I was ready for him to be awake now. At that point I could still cope with the contractions on my own but had this feeling that things were going to pick up.
Within 20 minutes of my waking him, I started feeling pretty uncomfortable through the contractions and I told my husband to call the midwives. I could still breathe through them and remain calm and still, but I was definitely starting to dread each one.
I didn’t realize it yet, but I was a lot closer to birth than I thought. I was preparing myself mentally for my midwives to get here and tell me I was at like 4-5 cm and still had hours of labor to go.
The way childbirth is talked about, portrayed in movies, and treated by the medical community makes “active labor” out to be continuously painful and requiring medical management.
By the time my midwives arrived about 45 minutes later, each contraction started out as just a tightening for a few seconds which signaled to me it was coming. Then came the pain in both my abdominal area and pelvic floor which slowly increased until it reached a maximum point and it stayed at that threshold for around 20 seconds. There was also starting to be a lot more pressure on my pelvic floor. Then the contraction let up slowly and the pain got less and less until it disappeared.
My entire active labor contractions lasted about 60 seconds with only 20 seconds of it being super painful.
As they were checking my vital signs and the baby’s heart rate, I told them I didn’t want to do this for more than an hour. That was around 6:20 am. One of them said, “I don’t think it will even be an hour” without checking my dilation. At that time, that was exactly what I needed to hear. It was very comforting and reassuring, which gave me more mental endurance.
A few more contractions went by and I needed extra help managing that awful 20 seconds. Once of my midwives did some counter pain techniques where she pressed hard on my shoulder and hip through a contraction. This helps give the brain an additional stimulus to focus on so that not all of your concentration is on the labor pain.
I HIGHLY recommend this as a pain management tool because it definitely took the edge off a few contractions. During the transition phase of labor (which I didn’t realize I was in at the time) every contraction gets you so much closer to meeting your baby but dang if they aren’t super difficult!
I continued to labor in bed for another five contractions but my back started to burn. It felt like it was on fire with each contraction and kept growing to a larger and larger area.
I felt like I couldn’t go through another one without being in warm water, so my husband filled up our large bathtub for me.
I felt immediately better once I was in the warm water and got through another 4-5 contractions somehow. During the last few contractions in the tub, my body started to do this really weird thing…
…I started to make these really quick movements like I was bucking. I don’t know how else to describe it but I am pretty sure I was fully dilated and my body was trying to force the baby out. My bucking was my conscious attempt to resist it but the feeling was so strong that during my last contraction in the tub my membranes broke and a gush of water came out.
My midwife instructed me to get out of the tub and head to my bed where I would birth my baby.
(We did not prep my tub for birth by cleaning it properly.)
I have one of those fancy beds that lift like a hospital bed so I lifted up the head of the bed and held on to it while kneeling in an upright position.
Once we had the chucks pads under me, I started to push and was so surprised how easy it was. I could have pushed my baby out in one push but I stopped myself because I wanted the baby to have more time in the birth canal to squeeze the fluid out of its lungs.
During the second push I couldn’t resist the urge and my baby shot out like a rocket!
What a huge improvement from pushing for over an hour with my first baby and feeling so exhausted and scared that they would take me in for a c-section!
Also, I didn’t have a single tear this time around!
It was another beautiful baby boy! We waited to find out and I couldn’t be happier that my son has a best friend for life!
My midwives actually waited almost two hours before we cut the cord. I birthed the placenta a few minutes after my son was in my arms and they wrapped it up in a chucks pad. I honestly can’t remember why they did this but I think it was for uninterrupted skin to skin and the first nursing session.
As soon as we were laid down and settled, my son immediately latched and breastfed for an hour and a half straight. I could not believe that considering the first time around it was days before I could get my baby to nurse at all. I could really tell a difference between a medicated and unmedicated birth in-regards to how alert and participating my infant was in nursing.
After my son nursed and I ate a warm meal, it was time to do all the infant checks, starting with cutting the cord.
My husband had sterilized his favorite knife beforehand, and the midwives allowed him to cut the cord Viking style!
After experiencing a home birth, I have realized that with the right preparation and a healthy pregnancy, there is really no need for modern medicine in birth. I did a lot of things to prep my body for a natural birth and everything during my pregnancy continued to check out as healthy and as it should.
For anyone reading this who is preparing for your first home birth, the best advice I can give is to keep your attitude positive during the final days of pregnancy. Also, fill your mind with stories of women who have successfully birthed without medical intervention.
Laboring and birthing our son at home was one of the most memorable experiences of my life. I am so thankful to my amazing midwife team and Seven Cities Midwifery and my husband for being so supportive throughout this journey.